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Play Em’ or Bench Em’: Week 9

Hello owners,
Another week down and another week closer to playoffs. Take account for the upcoming bye weeks as these teams are off for week 9; Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Six teams is a lot of teams on a bye this week. Also don’t forget to keep grinding. Win or lose you have a chance to win on either side of the bracket. Go out on top and don’t give up for the season. Let’s go over some of the more favorable match ups for the week so you can prepare yourself for the high number of byes.
***Obvious players like Tom Brady, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Travis Kelce and other players of that caliber will not be featured in these columns***

Play Em’


-Deshaun Watson v. Indianapolis Colts

  • The rookie quarterback from Clemson has done nothing except impress. Watson has answered every test given to him so far this season. Sure he would have prefer a victory in some of those games (at Patriots, Chiefs, at Seahawks), but fact is this kid is a stud and should be started against EVERYONE! This week is a very good match up as he and the Texans will face a team looking at a top 5 draft selection. The Colts defense has given up a lot of big plays this season and the way Watson and the Texans offense is playing right now, there is no reason to believe the trend won’t continue. Start the possible rookie of the year.

-Cam Newton v. Atlanta Falcons

  • The Panthers offense has been inconsistent this year. Right now they’re playing well and Newton should be started when the offense is clicking. The Falcons are an even more inconsistent team which bodes well for the Panthers. Cam Newton is the undisputed leader on offense and this week he needs to kick-start this offense to fire up his troops in hope of putting the Panthers back into the playoff/Super Bowl conversation. Might be a gut-feeling this week, but Cam has an ability to ball out on any given Sunday and do you want to be the guy to bench him when he does? Didn’t think so. I’d start the 2015 MVP.

-Matthew Stafford at Green Bay Packers (Monday Night)

  • Yes the Lions lost last week on Sunday night football to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a close one. However, Stafford threw for 423 yards and zero touchdowns. ZERO. How does that even happen? It was still good enough to put up 20 fantasy points though. This week he’ll have a Green Bay Packers team coming off a bye week trying to find out who they are without Aaron Rodgers. On the other side of the field you’ll have Matthew Stafford whose production should continue to be at a high level and this week he should “rebound” and toss multiple touchdowns once again.


-Drew Stanton at San Francisco 49ers

  • If you need a quarterback replacement for the week Drew Stanton carries streamer value this week against one of the worst defenses in the league. Stanton is a veteran that can play well in a one to two game stretch. Fortunately for the Cardinals they had a bye week to prepare the back-up for this contest. With two weeks to prepare against one of the worst teams in the league and one of the best offensive minded coaches Stanton could put up some points this week.

-Josh McCown v. Buffalo Bills (Thursday Night)

  • Speaking of savvy veterans in the league, Josh McCown has been playing lights out for the Jets this season. No one expected much out of this team and he’s put these Jets in a position to win every game thus far. The Bills are a tough opponent, especially on a short week, but the Jets already played them this year

Running Back

-LeSean McCoy at New York Jets (Thursday Night)

  • All LeSean McCoy needed was a bye week to get healthy to truly start running all over defenses again. Since the bye week McCoy has 3 touchdowns on 242 rushing yards while grabbing 53 yards through the air. In the first meeting between these two teams in week one McCoy had 159 total yards, so it looks like the Bills runner is due to continue his current streak of 100+ total yards. Fun Fact: In 5 out of the 8 weeks in the NFL, one of the highest scoring positional players for the week has come from the Thursday night game. Meaning that someone from this week’s Bills-Jets Thursday night game has a good chance to be the highest scoring player in their respected position for the week. If it’ll be anyone, my money is on LeSean McCoy.

-Adrian Peterson at San Francisco 49ers

  • The 49ers have struggled against running backs this year. In fact they’ve given up the most amounts of points to opposing runners in fantasy this season. With a team that just lost their starting quarterback in Carson Palmer before the bye week, the Cardinals could use Adrian Peterson more than expected when they traded for him just a few weeks ago. Peterson showed glimpses of his former self then a dud in the following week. Who will we get this week? We won’t know until game day, but I’m banking on the all-pro to return after the team’s bye week. This game just has his name written all over it. Sure the Cardinals would feel more comfortable with the ball in Peterson’s hands than Stanton’s.

-Mark Ingram v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Last week against the Bears Mark Ingram had 2 fumbles lost which resulted him believing he “sucked”. Despite the fumbles the Saints still went on to win the game and Ingram racked up 99 total yards with a touchdown. Depending on your league he still had double digit fantasy points which is pretty good. If Mark Ingram truly thinks he “sucked”, the Saints running back will want to bounce back this week against a defense that’s been horrible at stopping the run. I can foresee a 100 total yard performance and a touchdown or two this week. Oh and no fumbles. Those are for players that “suck” and Ingram is not that player.

-Leonard Fournette v. Cincinnati Bengals

  • This was originally Jay Ajayi, but he got traded to the Eagles. So now we’ll feature the Jaguars first round selection that’s coming off a two week resting period. He’s already been a full go at practice this week and is ready to get back to work. Fournette has at least one touchdown in every game he’s played in this year and double digit points in every format as well. Leonard Fournette has torn through the AFC North so far this season and he’ll look to do the same this week against the Bengals with some fresh legs. Fournette is an angry runner and he was upset he missed the game before the bye week. He’ll run with purpose and with anger this week on his way to another stellar performance.


-Marlon Mack at Houston Texans

  • I’ve been banging the drum for Marlon Mack for weeks now. He’s out-snapping Frank Gore on a consistent basis and has been the best running back for the Colts this season by far. Mack is the clear pass catching back and if the Colts are down for much of the game once again, the impressive rookie from South Florida could see a lot of work yet again.

Wide Receiver

-Tyreek Hill at Dallas Cowboys

  • The Cowboys continue to struggle against #1 wide receivers. Tyreek Hill has been a top 5 receiver this year in fantasy. The way Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense is playing right now, it’ll be hard to stop the speedster from streaking downfield for some long connections. Hill is play-maker on offense and special teams and he’ll look to continue his stellar campaign in a juicy match up that could be sneakily high scoring.

-Michael Thomas v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • The Ohio State product continues to be the best receiver for the Saints this season. Vernon Hargreaves has been good the last two weeks, but he’s played the Bills and Panthers. The Bills don’t have a dominate receiver and the Panthers are a run first team. If Hargreaves has to shadow Thomas in this contest he’ll have a tough assignment and could go back to disappointing coaches like he did earlier in the season. Add in that the Buccaneers defense has been one of the worst overall defenses in the league thus far and it gives Michael Thomas and the Saints a favorable match up to look forward too.

-DeAndre Hopkins v. Indianapolis Colts

  • You all see what Hopkins did to the Seahawks secondary last Sunday? Yeah, the Colts secondary is nowhere close to that talented. Look for Hopkins to have another promising stat line this Sunday when he goes up against a team spiraling in the wrong direction. The only thing to worry about is if the Texans go up big early in the game and just run the ball to waste the clock. Either way, you’re starting Hopkins this week because the ceiling for Texans receiver is extremely high.

-Jarvis Landry v. Oakland Raiders (Sunday Night)

  • Another Dolphins player? Ugh, I know. Just call me a homer I suppose (I’m not a Dolphins fan I swear). Jarvis Landry is coming off his worst fantasy game of the year. This week he’ll get an attractive match up against a secondary that gives up a lot of big plays. DaVante Parker is expected to come back from an ankle injury as well so he’ll take open up some wiggle room for Landry to make plays. Make no mistake, Jarvis Landry is the best and most targeted player on this team. He’ll bounce back this week.

Tight End

-Jimmy Graham v. Washington Redskins

  • The Washington Redskins have struggled against tight ends all year and this week they’ll have to deal with a red-zone monster. The Seattle Seahawks running game is non-existent at the moment, so Russell Wilson and the passing game is relied on to win games. Jimmy Graham has been a huge beneficiary of this having at least one touchdown in the last three games. Since the first two games where he was barely used, Graham has at least 10 points in every game in PPR formats. Favorable match up on a suddenly pass-heavy team. Start him this week.

-Cameron Brate at New Orleans Saints

  • OJ Howard has slowly been incorporated into the offense, but don’t let that discourage you from starting Cameron Brate on almost a weekly basis. Brate has double digit points in all but one game this season in PPR formats. The Saints defense is improved, but the Saints struggle with big, physical red-zone dominating tight ends. Brate had at least one touchdown weeks 3-6 and I see him starting a new streak this week.

-Evan Engram v. Los Angeles Rams

  • The New York Giants team is missing a lot of play-makers on the offensive side of the ball after a string of injuries. Evan Engram came in and exploded as he was the best option for Eli Manning to throw to. Engram is glorified receiver in a body of a tight end. No matter the match up Engram is a must start as his volume of targets should be in the double digits on a weekly basis moving forward. Also if the Giants are playing from behind in every game, they’ll have to pass and Engram could get extra garbage time stats. Win, win for fantasy owners.

-Zach Ertz v. Denver Broncos

  • The Broncos one weakness on defense right now is stopping tight ends. They struggled to stop Travis Kelce on Monday night and Zach Ertz, Carson Wentz’ favorite target, will look to do the same to the tough defensive unit. Zach Ertz is having a career year and with the best corner duo in the league coming into town this week to shut down the Eagles receivers, Ertz will have an increased role this week to help out Carson Wentz. Denver is 2nd against the run, so the Eagles will have to pass to score points and the one player that’ll be open consistently will be Zach Ertz. Expect another big game that might seem like a tough match up.


-Benjamin Watson at Tennessee Titans

  • When the Ravens offense is clicking Watson is the best tight end on the team. Watson has 8+ points in all but one game this season in PPR leagues and with Flacco under pressure in the pocket he tends to release the ball faster. Watson doesn’t go deep too often and could benefit from all the check downs this week as he has this year. If you need a spot start because your starter is on a bye, Watson could be a good play.


-Philadelphia Eagles v. Denver Broncos

  • After the Monday night loss to the Chiefs, the Broncos now lead the league in turnovers. They’re ahead of the Browns for goodness sake! That’s not good. The Eagles are one of the best defensive teams in the league right now and they bring the pressure just like the Chiefs. With the Broncos offensive struggles, bad quarterback play and turnovers this could be a high scoring game for the Eagles defense who like to attack.

-Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants

  • Wade Phillips has history against Eli Manning and the New York Giants. Coming off the bye week he’ll surly have some crazy schemes in place to rattle the long time veteran into making mistakes. Factor in the lack of offensive play-makers for the Giants it doesn’t bode well for Manning and company. Could be another huge blow-out win for the Rams this week.

-Jacksonville Jaguars v. Cincinnati Bengals

  • Andy Dalton is playing better under offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, but it’s still Andy Dalton and this is by far the best secondary he’s faced all season. Dalton struggles when teams eliminate AJ Green and force the Bengals to use other ways of winning. Guess who has the tools to eliminate the talented pro-bowl receiver? The Jaguars that’s right. With the lack of a consistent running game and play-maker outside of Green, the Bengals could be in line for a long day.

-Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers

  • Despite the trade for Jimmy Garoppolo he’s not expected to start this week. Meaning CJ Beathard is likely the starter with Brian Hoyer released as well. The 49ers offense has been a non-factor the last two weeks and get yet another tough match up with the Cardinals defense that’ll be fresh off a bye week. Their stout against the run and Patrick Peterson keeps the passing game to a minimal. The 49ers haven’t given any sign of life on the offensive side of the ball the past few weeks and who’s to say they will this week. Start the Cardinals even with their back-up quarterback running things.


-Tennessee Titans v. Baltimore Ravens

  • The Titans defense is much improved from the first few games of the season. The Ravens offense is up and down this year and if they struggle to move the ball once again the Titans could take advantage. The Ravens scored 40+ points last Thursday night against the Dolphins, but if you look closely the defense scored a couple of times to make it look more appealing for the Ravens offense. Make no mistake, the Ravens offense is still lackluster and you should feel comfortable streaming defenses against them almost any week.

Bench Em’


-Andy Dalton at Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Mentioned earlier that the Jaguars have the tools to make one of the best receivers in the game a non-factor in this game. If that happens Andy Dalton will struggle mightily. Dalton has had some pretty bad games this year where he’s thrown multiple interceptions and this could be another one. The Jaguars defense is legit and is a scary unit that should have a fun day.

-Jared Goff at New York Giants

  • The offense for the Giants might be lacking, but much like the Denver Broncos right now their relying on their stout defense to keep them in games. Goff has enjoyed a great year under new head Sean McVay, but this game could be difficult for the second year pro. This could be a Todd Gurley type of game and one where the Rams try to keep the ball out of Goff’s hands. We’ve seen how Goff plays when he faces a tough defensive unit. Could be an ugly game played by the 2016 1st overall selection.

-Broncos Quarterback at Philadelphia Eagles

  • At first I had Trevor Simian listed here, but with the recent news of a potential quarterback switch I just included all of the signal callers in Denver in this section. The Broncos offense is struggling to muster any form of rhythm on the offensive side of the ball. Turnovers, three and outs, and bad quarterback has been the achillies heel for the Broncos and it isn’t going to get much better this week against the best recorded team in the NFL. No matter who starts for the Broncos its better they’re on your bench this week or better yet, on the waiver wire.

-Kirk Cousins at Seattle Seahawks

  • The Seahawks, the Legion of Boom rather, are coming off one of their worst games of their tenure. Normally traveling to Seattle is tough on teams, but rookie Deshaun Watson just balled out and made the feared defense look silly. This week the LOB will look to get back on track and shut down offenses. Kirk Cousins is starting to struggle due to the injuries to the offensive line and lack of running game. Cousins will fall victim to a rebound game of Seattle’s defense. I encourage you to bench him if you can this week.

Running Back

-CJ Anderson at Philadelphia Eagles

  • The Eagles boast the best running defense in the league. I’ve mentioned it a lot in this column that the Broncos offense is struggling right now. Anderson could have yet another rough afternoon. Factor in that he’s slowly losing his starting gig as the Broncos are approaching more of a running back by committee system. Jamaal Charles’ name keeps popping up to get more and more touches, Devontae Booker is back from injury and had a touchdown last week. Anderson started the season on fire, but after the Broncos started losing he seemingly lost his spark for this team. You might want to try and trade him while he still has some good value before he possibly loses his thunder as a reliable fantasy running back.

-LeGarrette Blount/Jay Ajayi v. Denver Broncos

  • On the opposite side of the ball the Eagles running backs surely have plenty of mouths to feed themselves now. I don’t expect Jay Ajayi to be used much in this contest, which is why he’s a bench em’. Blount however is a tough runner, but the Broncos are the 2nd best team against the run. This could be an ugly low scoring game, but either way I wouldn’t want to start any of the runners in this contest. Could be a passing frenzy if runs continue to get stuffed at the line of scrimmage from both teams.

-Frank Gore at Houston Texans

  • Seems like a regular in this section anymore for the future hall of famer. Frank Gore has had a wonderful career and is still a legit downhill runner that can break a few tackles and take it to the house. However, his benching is more due to the production of Marlon Mack. Mack is out touching the veteran and honestly looks like the outstanding play-maker I’ve been saying he is all season.

-Eddie Lacy/ Thomas Rawls v. Washington Redskins

  • The Seahawks totaled 479 total yards. You know how many these two “starting” running backs contributed to that? -1 rushing yard on 12 carries. Neither of these two can be trusted on a weekly basis until one emerges as the clear cut #1 choice. Bench them, drop them, and try to trade them for a pack of bubble gum. I don’t care. They should not be in your starting line-up right now if you’re trying to win. NEGATIVE ONE YARD. Ridiculous, that’s all I have to say about that. Just don’t even think about these two players.

Wide Receiver

-Alshon Jeffery v. Denver Broncos

  • The Eagles spread the ball around on offense and they don’t rely purely on one player to produce for them on offense. Jeffery hasn’t quite lit up the scoreboard this season like many anticipated. This week he’ll be shadowed by Aqib Talib or Charles Harris, two of the best corners in the league. The Broncos aren’t very nice to opposing #1 receiver and with Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz taking advantage of their mismatches Jeffery could see a season low in all the major receiving categories.

-Rishard Matthews v. Baltimore Ravens

  • The Ravens haven’t been to kind to opposing #1 receiver all season. For Rishard Matthews being on a run first team and the top pass-catcher being tight end Delanie Walker, it could be a rough day for the Titans leading receiver a year ago. The Ravens are more generous on the ground and with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry coming off a bye they’ll have fresh legs against a front struggling to stop runners and the Titans could stick with that all game.

-Jordy Nelson v. Detroit Lions (Monday Night)

  • When Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback he makes everyone better. That holds true with Jordy Nelson especially as his stats drastically dip without the best quarterback in the league throwing him the ball. Brett Hundley has yet to favor a receiver in his lone start. Regardless, Nelson’s production is due to drop without Rodgers and he could be a shaky play this week against a Lion’s defense that has been very good this year. Darius “Big Play” Slay with surely shadow Nelson in Monday’s contest and that could shy the young quarterback away from targeting him. I understand Jordy Nelson was probably a high draft selection for you, but he could become a match up based player from here on out this season.

-Sammy Watkins at New York Giants

  • Sammy Watkins is a match up based fantasy receiver with the Rams. Unlike the Buffalo Bills, he isn’t featured like the #1 guy and the only play-maker to produce for the team. Jared Goff has a lot of options to throw too and Watkins will have his hands full with a stout secondary of the Giants. Sammy Watkins seems to be more of a decoy on offense to open up lanes for other receivers and running back Todd Gurley. Watkins cannot be trusted on a weekly basis and should be benched unless a favorable match up presents itself.

Tight End

-Austin Seferian-Jenkins v. Buffalo Bills (Thursday Night)

  • The Buffalo Bills are tough against tight ends and could pose a problem for ASJ in this game. Not only is the match up not in his favor, but ASJ has been more of a touchdown reliant player. With Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse as the top options in the passing games, ASJ can have a great dominate game in the red-zone or a sub-par game with 20 some yards. This week I see the big bodied tight end as a non-factor versus a good secondary.

-Austin Hooper at Carolina Panthers

  • The Falcons have been inconsistent on offense and only certain players should be trusted as a weekly starter. Hooper is not one of those players. Hooper has been very unreliable in the passing game for fantasy owners as he averages 3 receptions per game. He doesn’t get enough volume of targets nor production to be trusted this week against one of the best teams to defend the tight end position. Bench both Austin’s this week. See I’m not even basis toward my own kind.

-Coby Fleener v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • With Alvin Kamara being a brilliant short yardage pass catcher, Coby Fleener’s role has diminished for the Saints. He’s losing steam on the offense and has been virtually non-existent on this team. The Saints running backs of Mark Ingram and Kamara are taking over this team and it’s affecting Fleener’s stock and value for the Saints. He’s not trustworthy even in a good match up.

-Tyler Kroft at Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Kroft had a very good match up last week against the Colts and failed to take advantage. This week possess an even bigger challenge in a Jaguars team that could very well have the best secondary in the NFL right now. Last week all the Bengals players should’ve been started, this week we’re benching them. What can I say, it’s a week-to-week business and Kroft couldn’t produce last week and he won’t this week either.


-Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

  • The Buccaneers remain the bottom defensive team in the league. They’re having trouble stopping anyone and now they’ll have to face a red hot Saints team clicking on all cylinders. The Buccaneers defense should be dropped in all leagues and kept in the waiver wire from here on out.

-Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks

  • Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are coming off a crazy game where they accumulated 479 total yards against a respectable Texans defense. The Washington Redskins might be a tad better than the Texans defense right now, but if the Seahawks can play like that every game I wouldn’t try my luck with any defense to play against them right now.

-New Orleans Saints v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • The Saints defense has been on fire in recent weeks, but this game could cause some issue. Jameis Winston and company coming off a 3-point game performance and they’re poised for a big break-out game. This game has the capability of being a shootout and unless they can score multiple times on defense like they did in the Lions game, they won’t get you many points this week. I know they’ve been a great streamer for you lately, but this week I’d advise you bench them.

-Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers

  • Must be bench the NFC South defense week. The Falcons had issues stopping Josh McCown and the Jets offense for parts of last week’s game. Now they’ll get Cam Newton and the Panthers offense that is starting to click. Even with starting wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin being traded this team has weapons they can abuse. Newton is going to have to go full superman mode to get his team fired up to win this game and the Falcons have struggled against Cam Newton when he goes to that level of play-maker.
That concludes this week’s edition of Play Em’ or Bench Em’. As always, good luck in your match up(s) and I hope you win. If you ever need more help with your lineup(s) don’t hesitate, me or anyone from the SFT crew. We’ll always respond to you on all of our social media pages. So, don’t forget to like and share us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, as well as connecting with us on LinkedIn. Until next time, have a great day!
Austin Thomas

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